Cronulla Sharks triumphed by the skin of their teeth their Sydney rivals Parramatta today, winning 22-20 at Southern Cross Group Stadium after the Eels mounted an amazing comeback with three tries in the final five minutes. It was only Mitchell Moses’ failure to add the final conversion that failed to take the game into extra time.
The Sharks began the game with an early try, beautifully executed, to Sosaia Feki, who shot over in the left corner, with Chad Townsend landing a fine conversion.
The Eels replied on 12 minutes with a superb try of their own, however, with great ball movement between Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson, before Brad Takairangi flicked the ball on for Bevan French to dive over in the corner.
But from that point the Sharks gradually took control of the game.
Feki scored his second on 27 minutes after great work by Townsend, although he couldn’t add the conversion, but he then scored a try of his own four minutes later, this time adding the conversion, although the Sharks suffered a blow when Wade Graham left the field with a hamstring problem.
On 47 minutes Townsend combined with Matt Moylan to send winger Edrick Lee over on the right, and Townsend’s missed conversion meant that the score was now 20-4 for the Sharks, with Townsend adding a penalty shortly afterwards.
The Eels’ last hope looked to be effectively vanquished when French made a superb attempt to touch down but couldn’t avoid hitting the touchline. But they kept trying, and David Gower touched down on 74 minutes to keep their faint hopes alive, with Moses adding the conversion.
But then amazingly they scored two further tries from Michael Jennings and Moses, with the latter converting the first but missing with the second, much to the relief of the tiring Sharks, who were delighted to secure a two-point victory.
Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Kurt Capewell, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Joseph Paulo Interchange: 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17 Scott Sorensen, 18 Kurt Dillon
Tries: Feki 2, Townsend, Lee; Goals: Townsend 3
Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Brad Takairangi, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Kaysa Pritchard, 10 Suaia Matagi, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Peni Terepo Interchange: 14 Will Smith, 15 Kenny Edwards, 16 David Gower, 17 Tim Mannah
Tries: French, Gower, Moses, M Jennings; Goal: Moses 2
Full match reports of all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.